This past week, the #usguys part of Twitterville has been abuzz with a new logogate from one of my favorite brands – Starbucks.
I WON’T DWELL ON WHAT’S ALREADY BEEN SAID.
YES, I think it’s a great idea to remove COFFEE, as Starbucks plans to expand beyond the category. But NO, I wouldn’t extend that comment to the removal of STARBUCKS; the coffee chain has not quite reached Apple or Nike status, at least not beyond the United States.
YES, the logo does a great job retaining such core equities as the green color and the siren. Of course, you could question how famous the siren really is. For most people, the iconic and memorable part of the previous logo was the ring and type. YES, it was also the part that was most emulated… but did that really make it impossible to own?
YES, logo changes drive huge conversion costs, especially for brands that deal in equipment and retail. It’s never as easy as changing a Twitter profile picture; all those cups and uniforms and stores fronts have to change too, building up to millions of dollars. Will that have a positive ROI via increased sales? Probably, NO.
And YES, anybody can argue aesthetics to death. As the Starbucks Facebook page seems to show, a lot of people have passion against this new logo… and it can’t find many champions to support it.
To get more perspective, take a moment to review Freddie Winckler and Paul Biederman’s very thoughtful posts on the topic: When It Comes To Logos, It’s Always Open Season, by @paulbiederman; The Why Behind The Starbucks Fury, by @lefreddie.
HERE’S MY POV – THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH THE LOGO, IT’S THE STORY THAT’S BAD.
I’m not in the camp that says that fans own the brand, and should have a say in what it looks like etc. A brand logo belongs to the brand; it exists for a strategic purpose, and should help the business achieve its objectives. When the objectives or strategy change, it can be perfectly legitimate to change the logo with them. Time will tell how good a job the designers of the Starbucks logo did, strategically.
But how you tell the story is different – that’s the part that should be about the fans, the public, the consumers.
There must be something in the change for them.
It’s a little bit like changing your haircut.
Sure, you can jump into a room screaming “hey, look at me with my new haircut!“, and stop there. Some people will have a point of view about your new looks (not that you should care), but most people will just ignore the news. It’s really not that important to them.
But say you changed your haircut because of a big change in your life (a job, a relationship, a big change of direction), then a new haircut can be a great conversation starter. Lead with the haircut, and then tell the story. A change in looks is an opportunity for people to take a fresh look at you… and hear about your life.
Along the same lines, I’d argue that the only reason you should talk about a logo change is when you have something big and new to tell your consumers beyond the logo itself. It can be such as great symbol of re-evaluation… a powerful trigger for a new brand story, when used as a conversation starter. But here’s the rub: the part that follows the logo should be something your fans and consumers really care about (not just a haircut).
Back to Starbucks, here’s what I think is missing.
It’s not a word, or a color, or a circle.
It’s a story with value for the Starbucks consumer. Maybe a new venture outside coffee could have been that great story, but right now it’s more about corporate strategy and shareholders, than about consumers. Where can they see, touch and drink it? Nowhere… because it does not exist yet.
Net net, I think the launch of the new Starbuck logo missed an opportunity to create a positive conversation about the brand, and what it means for the fans.
It talked about “Starbucks”, said “look at me” and as a result, it let people talk and criticize… the new haircut.